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Cooking Tips

The saying goes that “cooking is an art, but baking is a science.” You don’t necessarily have to follow a recipe to cook a great meal...just use your creativity and trust your taste buds. I would suggest following a basic recipe for baking though, because ratios are very important when baking. Here are some basic cooking tips to help you get started:
  • If using a recipe, read it beforehand. Make sure you understand the steps and have all the ingredients and tools necessary. 
  • Set out all of the tools and ingredients you will need before you start. You can even pre-measure things like spices.
  • If you don’t have lots of time to cook, set aside some free time to cook a big potful of something that you can refrigerate and eat over the next few days. Or freeze a portion and it can last a few weeks. 
  • Try to steam or bake as much as possible. Frying is not as healthy, and boiling causes healthy nutrients to leach out into the water (you can save this vitamin-rich water and use it in soups and stews!) 
  • There’s no reason to buy every new kitchen gadget that comes out, but here are a few inexpensive and useful items that I recommend:
    • When using non-stick pots and pans, use a wooden spoon or spatula to prevent the chemical coating from flaking off into your food.
    • A cast-iron skillet is a vegan’s best friend. It is naturally non-stick and the iron in the pan actually increases the iron content in the food you’re cooking! Plus food seems to taste better when cooked in a cast-iron pan. 
    • A countertop steamer is a cheap and useful appliance. You can steam grains (I won't cook rice any other way) and veggies. You literally just “set it and forget it!”
    • An immersion blender is my new best friend. I use it to make dips, soups, smoothies, etc. It has a much easier cleanup than a food processor or blender! 
    • If you have a garden and grow lots of greens, then a spin-dryer will be really useful. You can wash and dry greens properly in seconds. Also, buy loose greens and wash and spin-dry them yourself. You will save lots of money if you stop buying those pre-washed and packaged salad greens. 
    • A handheld garlic press will save you lots of time. Just pop in an un-peeled garlic clove and squeeze! I used it for fresh ginger root as well. 
    • A good food processor will be useful in making homemade hummus, pesto, sauces, and for chopping veggies. If you want to splurge, a powerful blender like the Vita-Mix can do all of the above and more! 
    • A hand-powered sifter will make your baked goods lighter and fluffier. 
  • Last, but not least, TASTE, TASTE, TASTE! Test your food every so often as it’s cooking to check for spices, seasonings, texture, and doneness. Remember that some foods taste better once cooled to room temperature. This is actually the case for a lot of vegan dishes. 

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